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Ann at Work: HERfinance

Chloe Poynton

At ANN INC., we invest in programs that support women. We know that over 70% of the workers who make our apparel products are women, and we strive to help them lead better, healthier, more empowered lives. Throughout the next month, learn more about the many ways that we’re stitching together women across the globe.

ANN INC. participates in the HERproject – a program that provides in-factory women’s health education in developing countries where there is often a lack of awareness regarding women’s heath issues and how to lead healthier lives. Through the HERproject, an initiative of BSR (Business for Social Responsibility,) we are funding health education for over 13,000 women in factories around the world. This training includes topics such as hygiene, nutrition and disease prevention. By teaching women how to take care of themselves, they are more confident, healthier, and more engaged.

We also participate in new program called HERfinance, which provides financial literacy training to the women at the factories. We spoke with Chloe Poynton, BSR’s Manager of Human Rights and Advisory Services, about her journey with HERfinance.

Tell us more about HERfinance. 

HERfinance is a BSR initiative that works directly with companies, financial services providers, factories, and NGO partners to expand financial inclusion to workers in global supply chains, including ANN INC.’s supplier factories.

What aspect of HERfinance are you most proud of?

Thanks to generous seed funding from the Walt Disney Company, HERfinance operates in both Bangalore and Delhi and uses a peer-to-peer training model developed by BSR’s HERproject. In addition to training, the program aims to connect workers to appropriate financial services.

Tell us a great story from a HERfinance factory.

When we were first doing our scoping study in India we met a young woman who had recently opened a formal savings account. During our interview, she detailed the increased control she has over her finances now that she no longer has to carry cash. Before opening the account, her husband used to take her wages from her each month. Now, with her wages in a bank he is unable to access them and she has been able to deepen her family’s investment in education.

How is ANN INC. involved with HERfinance?

ANN INC. was one of the first brands to participate in and support the HERfinance India pilot.  ANN INC. has sponsored factories in both Bangalore and Delhi and contributed both time and resources to the program’s success. The company’s investment to both HERfinance and HERproject is emblematic of its commitment to empowering women globally.

What do you envision for the future of HERfinance?

Our goal is to expand HERfinance globally. We’re currently looking to expand outside of India and expect to add two more countries in 2014. We hope that HERfinance contributes to the global push to have 100% financial literacy.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself!

I’m an adrenaline and travel junky. I’ve bungee jumped over Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and circled the globe twice on epic travel adventures.

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